Larger state investment in civil legal aid is needed

Larger state investment in civil legal aid is needed

LEGAL
The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com. Maine's chronic shortage of attorneys for low-income criminal defendants has rightly gotten a lot of attention. The US and state constitutions guarantee those accused of crimes a right to a speedy trial, a pledge that Maine is in danger of not fulfilling as the state's program struggles to recruit and retain lawyers. Maine also faces a critical shortage of lawyers to represent low-income Mainers in civil cases, such as those involving evictions, protection from abuse and discrimination. In Maine, there are more than 360,000 low-income people who are eligible for free legal services, and most of them will face at least one…
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Our View: Civil legal aid is falling short, hurting all of us

Our View: Civil legal aid is falling short, hurting all of us

LEGAL
Too many Maine residents aren't able to get the legal representation they need. No, we're not talking about those charged with crimes — though we absolutely could be. Instead, we're talking about people who need civil legal aid to help them entangle a variety of messy problems with the potential to upset their lives. Legislators are struggling to fix an indigent criminal defense program that they've been allowed to fall apart. Filling the gaps in aid for civil complaints, however, is much easier. A bill before the Legislature is asking for $11.2 million over the next two years to be distributed through the Civil Legal Defense Fund, which supports the work of providers of civil legal services in Maine. Unlike the criminal side, there is no constitutional right to representation…
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